Tag Archives: Curriculum

Higher-Order Thinking (Analysis; Synthesis; and Evaluation)

Fundamental learning experiences (i.e. Competency-based Paradigms) culminate when students are capable of applying knowledge and skills.  However, higher-order cognitive processes are indicative of three progressively more complex “hierarchical” classes of behavior (i.e. reasoning outcomes).  As presented in the “original” (1956) Taxonomy published by Bloom et.al.; these outcomes are described as follows.

Analysis emphasizes the breakdown of … [the integral] into its constituent parts and detection of the relationships of the parts and of the way they are organized.  It may also be directed at the techniques and devices used to convey the meaning or to establish the conclusion of a communication….  [Analysis entails] … the ability to distinguish fact from hypothesis …, to identify conclusions and supportive statements, to distinguish relevant from extraneous material, to note how one idea relates to another, to … [recognize] unstated assumptions …, to distinguish dominant from subordinate ideas or themes …, to find evidence of the author’s techniques and purposes, etc. (p. 144)  Analysis … may be divided into three types or levels….  [i.e. Elements, Relationships, and Organizational Principles].

Synthesis is … defined as the putting together of elements and parts so as to form a whole [i.e. to constitute a pattern or structure]….  Generally this would involve a recombination of parts of previous experience with new material, reconstructed into a new … integrated whole.  [The] category … provides for creative behavior [i.e. produce and organize original ideas] on the part of the learner.  However, … the student is expected to work within the limits set by particular problems, materials, or some theoretical and methodological framework.  [Although] comprehension, application, and analysis also involve the putting together of elements and the construction of meanings, … these [constituent levels] tend to be more partial and less complete than synthesis in the magnitude of the task. (p. 162)  Three relatively distinct types of products are identified as sub-categories within this class of behavior [i.e. the production of a unique communication, the production of a  planned/proposed set of operations, and the derivation of abstract relations].

Evaluation is defined as the making of [quantitative and qualitative] judgments about the values … of ideas, works [e.g. artifacts, performances, etc.], solutions, methods, material, etc.  It involves the use of criteria [including values] as well as standards for appraising the extent to which particulars are accurate, effective, economical, or satisfying….  Evaluation is placed at this point in the taxonomy because it … involves some combination of all the other behaviors of Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, and Synthesis…. [The process] … is not necessarily the last step in thinking or problem-solving.  It … will in some cases be the prelude to the acquisition of new knowledge, a new attempt at comprehension or application, or a new analysis and synthesis. (p. 185)  Two types of (judgment) are considered (i.e. those in terms of internal evidence and those in terms of external criteria)  Both types must be made in accordance with “distinct” criteria.

Learn more about “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Filed under Blooms Taxonomy, Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Instructional Design, professional Development, School Reform Initiatives & Professional Development Strategies, Teaching

Developing (Dynamic) Instructional Programs

As Frymier (2001) has indicated:

Thirty different textbooks would be more appropriate than 30 copies of the same book. Three Thousand articles on geography … would be … [more enriching] than one geography textbook….  Big pieces of material … [with] numbered pages, tend to force teachers and students to accept a given sequence of limited amounts of information….  If curriculum materials are small in size, … superb in quality and great in number, teachers and students have an opportunity to create various patterns of sequence and use of materials.  Such variety increases the likelihood of meeting … [the needs of all students]. (p.62)

Original source material: Frymier, J. (2001). After thirty years of thinking about curriculum. Theory Into Practice, 25(1), 58-63.

The complexity of coursework (i.e. curriculum) and the type of learning that is expected are primary determinants of precisely how “dynamic” your curriculum may become. In cases when a technical objective (i.e. competency requirement) is identified as the intended outcome; your ability to formulate a dynamic strategy (as described by Frymier) is restricted by the structural mechanism (i.e. lesson plan) that you establish. Therefore, we must recognize that “non-technical” curriculums (which ought to be aligned with student-centered outcomes) are most conducive to employing “dynamic mechanisms” and facilitating “applied” learning.

The cognitive nature of applied learning is described by Bottoms, Presson and Johnson (1992) as follows:

Applied learning is actively student-oriented, characterized by lively … discussions, absorbing group projects, meaningful homework assignments, laboratory experiments, live and video … presentations, and other hands-on activities. The purpose of applied learning is to create an environment that actively engages students and teachers in a collaborative learning process. (p.50)

Original source material: Bottoms, Presson & Johnson (1992). Making high schools work. Georgia, Southern Regional Education Board.

Want to learn more about initiating dynamic instructional programs/curriculum? Sample/Purchase “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Filed under #Student-centered Learning, Classroom Management, Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Instructional Design, professional Development, School Reform Initiatives & Professional Development Strategies, Teaching

A Dichotomous Approach to Assessment & School Reform

Many pathways could be taken in traveling from coast to coast.  Oh, the rich stories we might convey given an opportunity to do so.  It is likely that many of us would choose a well worn path in planning our journey.  Some individuals would be a bit more adventurous, while others may seek a route that aligns with their unique interests.  In so doing, we may expect a diverse population of travelers to enrich our lives with colorful accounts of their experiences.

Now, imagine an alternative scenario!  A bus tour that all must endure regardless of interests or previous travel experience(s).  Furthermore, travelers in your “group” must complete a mandatory survey (at periodic intervals) to verify what they have learned.  If you have not been attentive–consequences may be expected.  You will have little interaction with your peer group as they will likely be fixated on the tour guide and the events unfolding. 

Given a choice, which scenario would you choose?  Both of these learning experiences are acceptable to me.  However, I prefer the richness of diversity when contrasted with conformity.  Unfortunately, the majority of students (in our schools) are not given the freedom to choose what they will study.  They must learn X and record their accumulated knowledge via standardized measures.  If “we” desire all students to make the transition from school to a productive life after graduation (i.e. to journey from coast to coast); we must compliment the implementation of standardized testing with the widespread utilization of formative assessment mechanisms.  We must provide students with multiple pathways to success.

Efforts to move beyond traditional forms of assessment continue to gain support.  However, norm referenced summative assessments remain the key component in satisfying our public desire for accountability.  Although standardized tests have evolved to include written essays, explanations, and descriptions of procedures that were utilized to solve problems; such evaluations are not directly related to the curriculum or instructional methods employed by teachers (and that remains the primary problem that must be addressed in education).  Therefore, standardized testing ought to be “coupled” with performance-based (i.e. formative) experiences such as portfolios so employers and college admission specialists can verify the unique qualifications of each applicant.  If the future unfolds as described, we shall witness changes in public policy; changes in the professional development programs that are provided to pre-service and in-service practitioners; and changes in the nature of student learning.  In the wake of competing philosophical positions (about student learning); the time has come to establish a participatory (communal) dialog that is based on a recognition of the need to employ more aggregated combinations of instructional practices (i.e. methodologies) in our schools.  Moving beyond traditional approaches to teaching and learning requires a periodic examination of the transactions that are occurring between teachers, students, materials, and tasks.

Want to learn more about examining your use of resources, teaching methods, and assessment tools?  My comprehensive manuscripts (i.e. Becoming a Reflective Practitioner; and The Dichotomy of Instructional Design) are published at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman


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